A shocking 142 workers have been killed at work in the past year
A STAGGERING 142 workers have been killed while doing their jobs in the past year, worrying new figures revealed yesterday.
The preventable deaths — an increase of nine on 2013-14 figures — mainly occurred in the construction, agriculture and waste sectors with 35, 33 and five fatal injuries to workers, respectively.
Cable systems maker McCalls Special Products was fined £200,000 last week for the death of agency worker Alan Gerrard, 47, who was pulled in by machinery.
Rettenmaier UK Manufacturing was also fined £200,000 — plus £100,000 costs — earlier this month after employee George Major, 51, was dragged in and killed by an unguarded industrial blender in 2011.
Meanwhile, a whopping two million people have been suffering from an illness that has been caused or exacerbated by their jobs in the past 12 months according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) data.
The 27.3m sick days in the past year cost the economy an estimated £14.3 billion.
But even though the HSE statistics “show work is not getting safer or healthier,” they “mask far more than they reveal,” the acting chair of National Hazards Campaign Hilda Palmer told the Star.
For this reason, she said, the statistics should be “taken with a pinch of salt.”
This is because the HSE does not count all deaths, injures and illnesses due to major changes to Riddor — the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations.
The HSE also omits the effects of a 44 per cent reduction in inspections and enforcement of health and safety law on the rapidly increasing number of work-related mental health cases.
An estimated 234,000 incidences of stress, depression and anxiety have been recorded in the last year due to at-risk workers being overworked, underpaid and prone to exploitation by their bosses.
Ms Palmer continued: “The HSE has completely abandoned enforcement or even promotion of their own Stress Management Standards, leaving it to commercial organisations to substitute effective collective prevention for their individualistic snake oil wellbeing and resilience programmes.”
The Tories’ “cavalier attitude” to health and safety will also put more lives in jeopardy due to the Trade Union Bill that weakens workers’ collective power, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said.
Ms O’Grady continued: “Unions play a crucial role in keeping people safe at work but these new reforms will make it much harder for unions to work with employers to identify potential hazards.
“And allowing untrained temporary workers to cover for experienced staff during strikes could lead to even more accidents at work and put public health at risk.
“Today’s worrying figures on workplace deaths show why we need stronger unions, not weaker ones.”
An estimated 13,000 deaths every year from work-related lung disease and cancer are attributed to exposure to chemicals and dust at work.
Asbestos — a deadly insulation material of thin fibres that accumulate in the lungs — accounts for more than half of an estimated 8,000 work-related cancer deaths each year.
The next four biggest categories of work-related cancer were lung cancer due to silica, diesel engine fumes and mineral oils, and breast cancer due to exhausting shift work.
Ms Palmer said that Britain, being the sixth-richest country in the world, should not tolerate escalating numbers of preventable deaths and diseases.
She continued: “We must fight back or we will not survive another five years of a Tory government hell bent on making British workers accept American or Chinese working conditions in a deadly race to the bottom.”